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Kindergarten Activities for African-American Appreciation Month

by Susan Rickey, studioD

February is a busy month for kindergarten teachers and students. Celebrating Valentine's Day as well as Abraham Lincoln's and George Washington's birthdays can provide many thematic units to build learning around. African-American Appreciation Month also falls in February. The celebration of the rich history of African-Americans provides an outlet for learning about the bravery, the creativity and the contributions made by African-Americans.

Music to Honor

Music and movement are important parts of the kindergarten day. Including music to honor the struggles and contributions of African-Americans is an important piece to the curriculum in February. Songs that reflect the struggle can include "I Have a Dream" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." Let these songs open up discussion about the issues of the lives of African-Americans during the days of slavery and the civil rights movement. Also include songs of peace like "Kumbayah" and "We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands."

Reading About the Heroes

Reading aloud picture books honoring African-American heroes help children understand the purpose of celebrating their contributions. Books about the fight for civil rights include books about Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges. "Martin's Big Words," "If a Bus Could Talk" and "The Story of Ruby Bridges" all explain the struggles felt by these three African-American heroes. Reading aloud books about Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman will help explain the bravery shown by African-Americans. Other African-Americans to read about are inventors such as George Washington Carver and athletes like Wilma Rudolph.

African-American Art Appreciation

Students in kindergarten need time to be creative and develop fine motor skills -- cutting, gluing, drawing and coloring. Ask the students to look through parenting magazines to cut out pictures of children they think of as a friend. After cutting out the pictures, the students glue them as a group to a larger paper to make a friend collage. Children at this age typically will cut out children of all colors and ethnicities. The collage's diversity makes a great discussion opener for acceptance.

Dreams Through Writing

Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech is a great starting off point for a writing station. Explain to the kindergarten students that King wanted his children to get the same education that other children in the country received. He wanted every man, woman and child to be treated the same. Let them listen to part of the speech to hear his voice. Show a picture of the thousands present to listen to him. Let the students express their dreams. Providing a sentence starter -- I have a dream that my family will one day..., I have a dream that my school will one day ..., I have a dream that my country will one day... -- gives them ideas to complete. An adult reads the sentence starter and writes down the students' dreams. The children then draw a picture of one of their dreams.

About the Author

Susan Rickey started writing in 1994 with a technology feature article for the "Pioneer Press." She was the writer of the Klamath Forest Alliance newsletter, an environmental organization. Rickey obtained her teaching credential from California State University and acquired her Bachelor of Science from the University of Arkansas.

Photo Credits

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